Backers of an initiative to increase oversight of the timber industry received permission Friday from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin gathering signatures.
The initiative would impose a harvest tax on timber and other forest products taken from public lands at a rate of 33 percent of profits and 8 percent of profits on product from private lands. Forest products harvested on Native American lands and timber harvested from private lands solely for private noncommercial use would be exempted.
The initiative would establish a department to collect and allocate the tax and oversee timber harvesting and environmental protection and restoration. It would also transfer the timber harvest oversight responsibilities of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to the new department.
Valid signatures from 504,760 registered voters -- 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 general election -- must be submitted by Sept. 10 to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot.